Daniel Bryan: a name that has pervaded the WWE since NXT Season 1 was announced. Before that, it was Bryan Danielson, who was adored as possibly the best wrestler currently performing.
The thing is that those names seemed to entail such differing stories at the beginning. Bryan Danielson was a monster, given accolade after accolade and adored. When that flipped, though, we thought we were seeing the creation of a completely different character, one that was the WWE's side of the character.
Bryan was a nerdy vegan who was undersized and underutilized. He lost left and right with only one good run with the US Championship to show for mostly lower-card wrestling and putting over upper mid-card stars.
Many were already giving up, saying that Bryan simply couldn't work in WWE. He was midcard for life. Over time, it seemed to me that he would be headed for success because he was already a champion and rising at a young age and short time in the company; however, nobody saw him becoming World Champion so quickly.
When Bryan cashed in his briefcase to steal away the World Heavyweight Championship from Big Show, something happened. Bryan changed. He evolved. He became a heel that had not been seen in WWE in a long time: a smart heel.
Over the years, we have seen many cocky yet cowardly heels come around. In fact, so many came around that it became the stereotypical heel persona. This was sad to see as a cocky, cowardly heel has trouble getting over many times. If everyone is doing it, even fewer heels were going to succeed.
Bryan is a breath of fresh air. An original character combining many different personas to create his great heel character. Bryan is smart knowing how to win a match no matter what the cost. He has seen his girlfriend injured and had to take almost no clean victories.
The thing is though that Bryan's character relishes in victory. Doesn't matter if it is by submission, pinfall, disqualification, or countout. In the end, it is victory, which allows Bryan's typical celebration.
Through all of this, Bryan has become a character that thrives in the main-event scene. Ratings are rising at a great rate as Bryan holds the title. His character is attracting viewers because it feels unique.
Honestly, who would ever thought that Bryan could possibly become this big in about two years time? I know I wouldn't have.
Many complain still that Bryan isn't working. That his gimmick is annoying, frustrating, incredible, just a sloppy rerun of CM Punk's Straight Edge gimmick. To this, my answer is simple. Wrestling at its heart is taking what worked before and doing it again and better.
Bryan has taken the opportunistic and slimy heel to a unique level while adding in his "role model" work which allows to mention why he is better than everyone else by being vegan. Why does it matter that Punk had a similar gimmick?
People seem more worked about this than Miz, Del Rio, and Cody Rhodes all latching onto every old heel gimmick and replaying it themselves. Bryan's character does things that nobody has ever done while also incorporating heat that is known to work. What is the issue?
Bryan can wrestle with the best of them. With this gimmick, he can show that he can talk with the best of them. The whole gimmick is a breath of fresh air in the sight of too many same old, same old heel gimmicks.
Together, Bryan has taken his independent experience and become a WWE star all his own. He may one day far exceed everything he did for his decade on the indies. Bryan quite simply is perfect in his role. Once and for all, let that be known and understood.
Plus, even if things weren't perfect, why complain about the greatest wrestler on the planet being World Champion? Seriously, let's chill a little bit.
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